Over the Hedge by Paulette Mahurin
Over The Hedge is a fictional story set around historical facts from the Netherlands during World-War-Two. The story focuses on a trio of individuals who helped smuggle Jewish children to safety.
Set in Amsterdam, this is a tale of a theatre taken over as a sorting station, where Jewish families were held before being sent East by train to the internment camps. Opposite the theatre was a child day-care centre where some of the young children were sent as they were separated from their parents. While the intention was still to send the children to the camps after a night in the care-centre, this was supposed to keep them out of sight of the guards.
Next to the care-centre was a school and a resistance network set up where children were literally handed over the hedge and spirited away to new families. Although true records were never kept, it was believed that between 500 and 1000 children were saved in this way from the Holocaust.
The author has used her extensive research into the subject to create this fictional account which is peppered with interesting factual snippets. At times, this made the writing feel clunky and it flowed less smoothly making it harder to engage with the storyline.
Overall an important subject matter, but the style of writing needed a bit more tweaking, with fact being woven into fiction throughout.
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During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children.
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